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Local Swimmers Dream Big As PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships Open Later This Week

This week the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships open at Bucknell University.

There will be plenty of swimmers and divers from all over the state trying to stake their claim as the top in their respective discipline. The event will be stretched over four days and feature swimmers from both AA and AAA.

There will be a lot of District 4 swimmers from the area representing their schools. It might be a little overwhelming trying to get through all the swimmers and divers in an attempt to cheer on the local group. Here are four storylines to watch throughout the event.

Caleb and Joshua McClelland (Sayre)

Both brothers entered the District 4 meet with high hopes. Celeb represented the distance swimmer of the group, while Joshua represented the sprinter of the group. Both performed well throughout the meet, but both were more concerned with how the other did.

Immediately after Caleb won the 200 free, he was required to wait for his medal and chance to be announced as the winner. As Caleb made his way down from the medal stand, he was asked for an interview. He agreed, but with one stipulation — he gets to break away to watch his brother swim the 50 free. It never got to the point that Caleb would have to break away, but it was close.

As Caleb ran over to the deck to see his brother perform, it was clear the day would mean more to have his brother reach the stand. Not only did Joshua reach the podium, but he qualified for the PIAA State meet with an impressive finish. He posted a time of 22.87 to edge out Grant Gronka of Central Columbia, who finished in a time of 23.00.

Caleb eventually qualified for the 500 free on the second day of the District 4 meet. The 500, as opposed to the 200 free, is much more Caleb’s speed, but he will be tested in both events at the highest level. Joshua, who will have his big brother with him throughout the four-day meet, will swim the 50 free.

All of the races will be difficult with multiple heats, but it will be worth it as both will represent Sayre and their family.

Abby and Gabrielle Doss (Shamokin)

Speaking of family, Abby and Gabrielle Doss will be another group of siblings headed to the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Abby will be carrying the added pressure of repeating last year’s success. As a freshman, Abby had the local swimming world doing flips when she won the 500 free during last year’s event.

Abby has lost little and gained a lot more since last year’s outstanding finish to the PIAA season. During her District 4 meet, she broke two of her own records and set two more district records in the process. She looked lean and physically ready for the 200 IM and 500 free. As stated earlier, she performed better than expected and will be heading to the next level with plenty of confidence.

One area that will be new for Abby is the presence of her little sister Gabrielle, who qualified with a top overall finish in the 100 breast. She beat out Danville’s Abby Ferguson to win the event with a time of 1:01.26. She also nearly knocked off Jersey Shore’s Emma Butzler in the 100 fly. Butzler, a senior, has dominated that event throughout her decorated career. Gabrielle posted a 57.78 and Butzler posted a 57.47 to win the event.

Regardless of the outcomes, both Abby and Gabrielle — much like the McClelland brothers from Sayre — will have their family there throughout the meet.

Emma Butzler (Jersey Shore)

Speaking of Emma Butzler, the Jersey Shore swimmer will be headed to her fourth PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships meet. She has been a mainstay at the top of the District 4 field throughout her career.

This year, hopes will be high for the senior swimmer as she attempts to reach higher levels after last year’s third-place finish in the 100 fly.

Butzler posted a 57.47 in the 100 fly to qualify for this year’s meet. Butzler picked up her 100th individual win earlier this season. She has constantly performed well throughout her career. There’s no reason to think this week’s championship should be any different.

Butzler is one of the most highly respected swimmers in the area. As mentioned earlier, Gabrielle Doss finished second to her in the 100 fly at districts and just that was reason enough to celebrate. Butzler is the standard in the 100 fly throughout the District 4. With confidence flying high and more motivation than anyone can quantify, Butzler should be primed for an outstanding meet.

Christian Coleman (Lewisburg)

Christian Coleman will be another District 4 swimmer with lofty goals heading into this week’s championships.

Coleman won the 200 IM and then captured the top finish in the 100 back. Coleman enters the meet as a junior, but has plenty of experience. He helped as part of Lewisburg’s relay teams last year and should be ready and prepared for the two-day AA meet.

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